This is my second post called “1984 revisited”. The first, in November 2010, complained about the American TSA’s operations against passengers in US airports, specifically its practice of grooming young children in such a way as to weaken their resistance to sexual predators. The TSA was and remains today the employer most favoured by child-molesters of both sexes, and its hiring policy doesn’t discriminate against them.
Since I discovered that policy, I have forbidden my Norwegian family from flying through the US to or from Cayman. (That is, I forbid them to fly that way if I am paying for the tickets.) Their other options are via Toronto, Havana, Jamaica or Honduras, from either London or Madrid. London-Nassau-Cayman and back costs me $1000 more each time, but protecting my granddaughters’ private parts from paedophiles is well worth the expense, of course.
Now it looks as though London Heathrow may have to be taken off the list. “Airstrip One”, George Orwell’s dismissive name for Britain in his novel “1984” looks set to fall into line with some of the US master’s practices.
Not the child-molesting, I hasten to say. The UK Border Agency tried that a few years ago, but backed down when threatened by the European Court of Human Rights. Not yet the rubber gloves stuck up selected orifices (the gloves are changed twice daily, whether they need it or not), and not yet the cancer-inducing “backscatter” radiation machine.
What the UK Agency is doing (so far) is testing the public’s resistance, and bearing down hard to see what it can get away with. Hastening to catch a connecting flight to Norway the other week, after an 11-hour overnight flight the other week, our nine-year-old granddaughter forgot to surrender her full bottle of water at the checkpoint in the in-transit area.
With insolent and exaggerated slowness, Big Brother’s goons inspected every single item in the whole family’s carry-on luggage, until the departure-time for the connecting flight had passed. Then they let them go. It was a clear victory for the storm-troopers, causing maximum stress with minimal effort. Well done, lads: gallantry medals all round!
This small incident would be nowhere close to the worst that occurs, I’m sure. But it illustrates the sheer banal nastiness that lies in wait for visitors to Airstrip One. One is left to wonder why British officials do that sort of thing. The actual luggage-searchers are jobsworths, of course, but how did their supervisors earn their stripes? Are they made to rip the legs off live frogs to earn their promotions? What will happen when they are given tasers, as is bound to happen sooner or later?
Cold-blooded, unprovoked meanness to defenceless strangers is not natural to most people. It’s not normal behaviour. It’s the kind of behaviour one expects from Blackwater bullies in Afghanistan and Iraq – savages, who have been trained to reject their humanitarian feelings. Why are people like that hired to harass innocent airline passengers? How did they get their jobs ahead of normal, decent, men and women who applied for the jobs? There must be a reason.
An attractive and cheerful nine-year-old with a bottle of water is not fair game, sleepy or not. Humiliating her was an act of petty meanness that is not easily explained. What a sad fate awaits ordinary visitors in transit at Heathrow, if checkpoints require weary children and their weary parents to run the gauntlet. What a sad place England will have become, a few years from now.